NEW YORK -- Desert Storm commander Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf is on the verge of another battlefield victory -- this one in New York, in the bidding war over who publishes his life story.
Industry sources said that Stormin' Norman was in the trenches yesterday quietly meeting with major New York publishing houses. The behind-the-scenes negotiation sessions took place this weekend at the East Side apartment of his agent, Marvin Josephson, the chairman of International Creative Management.
The price of admission: An advance of $3 million to $5 million-plus for worldwide rights.
Former President Ronald Reagan was reportedly paid a $1 million advance for his autobiography, "Ronald Reagan: An American Life."
"[Schwarzkopf] bowls you over," says Harold Evans, president of Random House, who met with Schwarzkopf for about two hours. Other publishers said to be in the running: Random House, Little, Brown & Co., Harper-Collins and Bantam-Doubleday-Dell.
But not everyone is so sure Schwarzkopf is a $5 million man, the point the bidding had reached, according to one industry source. Or, at least, whether the 56-year-old general's popularity will still be high enough to earn back that advance by the time the autobiography is published -- probably two years off.
"We just decided to sit this one out," Warner Books President Larry Kirshbaum said. "As it gets north of $3 million, it just gets risky."